WORKMEN could start building a controversial 7ft seawall across Shoebury Common this autumn after final plans were revealed.

Southend Council has unveiled proposals for the £5.18million seawall, designed to protect more than 350 homes and businesses in Shoebury from flooding.

Now it hopes work can start before next winter.

Deputy council leader John Lamb said: “I would like to think we could start work at least by the autumn and I’d like to see improvements moving ahead by the time the wet winter weather starts again.

“We need to get started. The sooner we start, the safer the people of Shoebury will be.”

The new 1,000-yard long seawall, between Ness Road and Thorpe Bay Gardens, is designed to protect properties in Shoebury from coastal flooding, with sea levels expected to rise over the next 50 years.

A grassy embankment, formed using 44,000 tonnes of earth from Southend Cliff Gardens, would mask the 710-yard part of the steel and brick wall that would stretch across the common, between Ness Road and Maplin Way.

The wall would block views of the sea between beach huts next to the common and views of the public park from the seafront promenade on the other side of the huts.

However, the tops of the huts would still be visible above the embankment from the common.

The existing crest wall between the promenade and the beach will be raised for the remaining 380 yards of the new sea defences, between Maplin Way and the beach access steps, about 170 yards west of Thorpe Bay Yacht Club. The council decided to push ahead with the scheme despite opposition from eight out of ten people who responded to a public consultation on the scheme last November.

Residents and businesses can now have their say on the final design before a cross-party group of councillors decide if it should go ahead.

The council’s development control committee will rule on the plans in public, probably within two months.

Chairman David Norman said: “It will go through the normal public planning process and all those who have a view on it will have an opportunity to express their views.

“It will, as always, be done in an open and democratic way – in which all shades of opinion will be taken into account.”